dejayM's picture

Scapa Scaleworm

Observed: 5th July 2013 By: dejayM
Biological Recording In ScotlandHighland Biological Recording GroupOrkney Biodiversity Records Centre
dejayM’s reputation in InvertebratesdejayM’s reputation in InvertebratesdejayM’s reputation in InvertebratesdejayM’s reputation in Invertebrates
rear end
front end

I've been sitting on this far too long. I can only find a near lookalike in my books or on the Web.
TWENTY is 9mm
Picture 5 is underside
Picture 6 is of a similar but different hairy species.
I can get near, hence a stab at an ID.
It may, just, be H.imbricata
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Species interactions

No interactions present.


dejayM's picture

here's hoping

You'd think, wouldn't you, that it'd be easy, with 15 pairs of 'plates', lovely red colour edges to the scales, distinctive skirt bristles, even small dark blotches on each scale?
But is it glabrous (hairless)? It certainly looks like it OUT of the water.
It is very common in mid tide pools of Scapa Flow.
Harmothoe imbricata has conicle tubercles and is mottled - I suspect P6 IS H.imbricata.
Oh yes, there are all manner of other 'things' in the pictures!

ChrisMcA's picture

Very good match in Collins

Very good match in Collins Complete Guide to British Coastal Life with description "distinctive scaleworm ..(usually in association w.terebellid worms & their tubes)..scales slightly translucent yellow with yellow with a chestnut margin.

The book shows 7 scale worms (ie photos) & I'd say the other 1 looks more like Harmothoe impar (brownish scales with yellowish central spot) than imbricata

dejayM's picture


Oh, thanks Chris. To be honest I wasn't expecting anyone - it's one of those subjects!
And yes, I think you might be right about Harmothoe impar.
H&R says this "..frontal horns prominent..".."elytra easily shed..".."spiny outgrowths..".
I find some fair pics and post it up.
(feeling better!)

JoC's picture

Harmothoë glabra.

And from our favourite book, "Dorsal cirri and ventral chaetae very long giving marked lateral fringe to body" (Hayward, P.J & Ryland, J.S. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-west Europe. 1995 OUP.)
I haven't (yet) got the Collins Guide Chris mentions - and I collect books! That will soon be remedied.


dejayM's picture


I can vouch for thë book - cover price £17.99.
See it here from £11.82 delivered
And here for a little less (just now)